Half the world’s population reaching below replacement fertility

28 Dec 2017   Population

According to the most recent UN estimates (United Nations 2017), almost one half of the world’s population lives in countries with below replacement fertility (BRF), i.e. with a total fertility rate (TFR) below 2.1 births per woman. Of these, one quarter have TFRs close to the replacement level, i.e. between 1.8 and 2.1; the other three-quarters have really low fertility, below 1.8 births per woman. Low-fertility countries are generally grouped into clusters. The main clusters are in East Asia, Southern Europe, the German-speaking countries of Western Europe, and all the former socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe (Table 1). In fact, contemporary fertility around the globe is lower than it has ever been. Since the middle of the 20 th century, childbearing has declined by 50 percent: 50 to 60 years ago women in developed and developing countries combined had on average 5 children, but now the world […]

What’s the Ideal Number of Humans on Earth?

26 Dec 2017   Population

Earth might be looking a little worse for wear, after the last four-hundred years of reckless wide-scale resource extraction, but to its credit it hasn’t collapsed entirely. Despite our best efforts, it continues to gamely welcome our rapidly expanding population, barring the occasional earthquake. Whether the planet might be a little better off with fewer of us is a different question, a freighted one. We are not advocating for reducing the population. We like the population. We wish it well. What we are curious about, in this week’s Giz Asks , is what the planet’s population size would be in an ideal world. Have we blown past that number, or can we pack a few billion more in here before the whole thing falls apart? The economists, geographers, conservationists and population experts we spoke to were, with some exceptions, a bit more optimistic about the Earth’s capacity than you […]

Failure to address Africa’s rising population is not an option

14 Jul 2017   Africa, Population

Africa will dominate global population growth in the 21st century. Almost 1bn people, or 13 per cent of the world’s population, live in sub-Saharan Africa today. That number will more than double by 2050 and 4bn people (or 36 per cent of the world’s population) could live in the region by 2100, according to a projection last month by the UN Population Division. The main reason for the rapid growth is a sharp decline in infant and child mortality, with no associated reduction in birth rates. Today, sub-Saharan women have five children on average, compared with 6.7 in 1970. Growing populations in the sub-Saharan region will influence societies, economic outcomes and geopolitics. In addition, the expected effects on food and water security (exacerbated by climate change) will be unprecedented. These trends will impact not only the region but the rest of the world. Europe appears to be particularly vulnerable as migration from sub-Saharan Africa is likely to intensify in coming decades. The good news is that African demographics appear to be commanding more international attention. The G20-Africa Partnership Conference, held in Berlin in June, focused specifically on Africa’s population boom. The G20 Summit in Hamburg this weekend will also address Africa’s population size and highlight the need for better employment opportunities. Sub-Saharan Africa is at a crossroads regarding the potential to capture a demographic dividend — an economic surplus triggered by the decline in birth rates, a decrease in the number of young dependants and an increase in the proportion of working-age adults. But the pressing policy question is whether the region can replicate the conditions that enabled several east Asian countries to prosper from their own demographic dividends from the early 1960s to the 1990s.

Land is scarce. Or just a civilization myth!

23 Nov 2016   Peak Oil, Population

You can Google this one. Just the way I did. Keywords ‘World Population’. The world population as of October 2016 is estimated at 7.4 billion. And the UN estimates it will further increase to 11.2 billion by the year 2100. This one is on Google as well. Total Earth’s land mass is 36.8 billion acres. So, if we were to do the numbers, each living human being could get approximately 5 acres of land individually. While, most would request their land to be at a Hawaiian beach and not Antarctica, there’s a trigger in these numbers. To counter the hospitable v/s inhospitable land debate brewing in your mind, allow me to submit that as yet we haven’t even considered vertical living. We are only talking 5 acres horizontal land share per living soul. But does it occur to you that a whole lot of people around the world believed […]

The end of the “population problem”? Another Seneca cliff in our future

21 Jun 2016   Population

If the demographic projections by the United Nations will turn out to be true, the world population should reach over 11 billion people by 2100 . Some think that it will be a disaster, others see it as a good thing as it would bring more economic growth. But is it really possible to reach such numbers? Can we really think that women would be so stupid to continue making children even in the midst of the crisis caused by declining natural resources and worsening ecosystem disruption? (unless the Pope himself were to tell them to stop)? Yet, some models tell us the human population could keep increasing even after the collapse of the world’s economy. There exists something called the “demographic transition” and it is a historical observation that may be extrapolated into the future. The data show a sort of “inverse fertility curve” […]